Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Happenings: Is sky really the limit?

We must somehow keep the dreams of space exploration alive, for in the long run they will prove to be of far more importance to the human race than the attainment of material benefits. Like Darwin, we have set sail upon an ocean: the cosmic sea of the Universe. There can be no turning back.
 - James C. Fletcher

Photo credit: NASA TV

NASA has partnered with the private sector to transport cargo for its space station. The SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3.44 a,m. EDT on May 22, 2012 and delivered a Dragon cargo capsule into orbit.  First such rocket carrying 1200 pounds of supplies for the crew of the space station and also experiments designed by students.

According to NASA: “The spacecraft can hold 7,300 pounds of material for delivery to the station, but since this is a test flight, the manifest was limited to important but not critical materials, like food and clothing.

The launch put the Dragon on a course to rendezvous with the space station in three days. The Dragon will remain connected to the station for about three weeks, allowing astronauts to empty it before loading used scientific equipment inside for the return to Earth. Reversing the process of connecting the spacecraft to the station, astronauts will use the robotic arm to remove the Dragon capsule. The Dragon will then de-orbit and return to Earth under parachutes, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.


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